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Saturday, Dec 27, 2014
Hello! My name is Smile. I come from H.S.T.K. School and I am now at Grace Garden to learn new things that I did not know. I really like to learn about solar power at the Grace Garden. In the first week, we learned about the 7 mindsets of highly successful people taught by teacher Kara. The 7 mindsets are:
Everything is Possible
We are All Connected
Attitude of Gratitude
Live to Give
The Time is Now
Saturday, Dec 27, 2014
Hi! My name is Thari Pyi Kyaw. I come from Burma. I come to learn more about how to plant vegetables and other things. We are learning in Noh Bo. This is my first time in Noh Bo. I love This place. We have a lot of fun in our school.
We learned the 7 Mindsets, Sustainability and animal husbandry such as raising frog and pigs.
Now I am writing about Sustainability. In the class we learned about the types of sustainability.
There are three types:
- Social sustainability
- Environmental sustainability
- Economic sustainability
Social means a system that meets the needs of it's current members as well as future generations.
Environmental means conserving an ecological balance by Replacing consumed resources.
Economic means a business activity that continues to be profitable over the long term
These things are important. You cannot do if we use only one of them. We must use all three.
To sustain means to not stop and cannot stop. Sustainability is a noun while sustainable is an adjective. A loop is a circle and loops do not have end and talking about circle of nature.
This is composting toilet to make natural soil. Paw Lah Moo said” This toilet is not like other toilet. I hope I will have this toilet."
This place is we also put compost. We put the bin in here.
We also learn about global warming. In the world food is getting less. So we want to grow food for our future generations. In the future there will be more and more people. So we will prepare more food for our children and grandchildren.
So we have to work a lot and plant a lot of trees, and plant more materials for the future. For example we cut down trees and we use the wood to build something. Then we will build the house and that is it. If we do not do anything else they will be gone and no more. One of my classmates asked “How to close the loop?” If we cut down one tree then we will plant ten trees for each tree. Then they will grow and you will cut down again and you have to plant again, then it will be a circle. We learn about green house gases. The sun's short waves enter and then infrared rays radiate from the ground and cannot pass through the glass. These short waves heat the ground and the warmed air rises and heats the green house and the long wavelengths radiated back to the atmosphere. This is green house effect.
My favorite part is closing the loop, because it is helpful for my community. We do not have to pay a lot of money to do something. We just have to pay some money to buy some thing. In our village, they cut down a lot of trees, but they do not grow again.
One of my classmates said talk about how to take care of the materials in our future. The problems I face is that I have not finished my school yet! I also work a lot in the sun, so I get dehydrated. I think at Grace Garden we can grow a lot of trees, because there is good soil. I saw a lot of grass growing very well. So I will try very hard to do this work. In the future I will teach my community to do these things. Sustainability is the lesson that made me feel good. I hope this lesson will help the world.
Thank you for reading.
Friday, Oct 17, 2014
Hi! I am Liping, and I just joined BGET on the 1st October 2014. Orientation started for me at Grace Garden with the Sustainable Living Skills Training camp, which I am delighted to share with you over this blog.
Kara, Colin and I arrived at Grace Garden on 5th October afternoon after picking up the 8 students from Dragons and their 2 instructors Mark and another Kara. Where There Be Dragons is a gap year study abroad program, and Wide Horizons is a two-year program in Mae Sot focussing on community developemnt. The 24 Wide Horizons students were already on the compound with their instructors Kristian and Ruth, and actively clearing the grounds at the cane ball court. Kara then brought all of us on a tour of Grace Garden and the interesting experiments on sustainable methods. Orientation went really well with the American and Burmese-Thai students mingling well and easy through the fun and games.
Orientation in the Sustainable Living and Learning Centre.
Sustainable topics were comprehensively covered through the four days of lectures and practicals. It was a great excitement for me to finally do some hands-on work and see the much-discussed theories and concepts implement on ground.
Day 1: We learnt about agroforestry, swales and natural soil enhancement, taught by Kara Bennett and Colin Able. Each group of students had their chance to try their hands at four different stations for both the morning and afternoon practicals. Bio-char and compost were two soil enhancements we practiced making. It was good to see the materials go on their full cycle as the weeds from the experimental plots go back into the compost, while what had fed them were the compost and bio-char. The students liberated the food forests along the two swales, by clearing the overgrown weeds that were fighting for sunlight and nutrients with them. They also planted more banana trees, and captured effective microorganisms (EM) with bamboo and rice. Apart from seeing the actual swales on ground, we were also taught how to survey the land using vernacular tools and methods, so as to stake out the swale alignment for construction.
Using an A-frame to survey the land for swale construction. "I am going to try and incorporate swales back home on my farm. I believe this is a very good idea."
Students posing with the EM traps they made out of bamboo and rice. "My favourite topic was natural soil enhancement because natural soil is very important. If we use chemical fertiliser, it can be damage our land, also cannot use many years. For me, natural soil is best for our land."
Firing the bio-char. "I'll definitely use EM and compost in my vegetable garden next year, and try to do bio-char at some point. I may also bring in my neighbourhood to utilize the composting pigpen! And I've already designed my future adobe tiny house that's powered by solar energy."
Day 2: We had a full day workshop on adobe, and it was really fun!
BGET Director, Salinee, shared her knowledge on adobe building construction, including her own house, and what better place to learn from than the adobe learning centre we had our lessons in! A mud pit was organically carved out under the strategic shade of a tree, where rice husks were mixed with water and mud under the dancing feet. Towards the end of the day, it was transformed into a mudslinging pit. Adobe bricks had been made in advance, and students transported them from under the bamboo hut to the tool shed site, where they practiced adobe bricklaying. At the same time, wood planks were salvaged to recycle them into the door jamb and shelves by the students.
As with anything to do with mud, a mud fight broke out!
What better way to end the day than to go for a cooling swim / shower in the Moei River!
As shared by many students, adobe was a fun and useful topic for them. "Building adobe! Particularly actually building the wall and making the mixture. I loved putting the bricks together, and all of it really."
"I will use for my life. I will build one adobe home and I will share with new generation in future on how to save environment."
Day 3: Guest speakers, Ko Lynn, Sai and Moe Thu, from Khomloy Development Foundation (KLDF) came and gave us a full day workshop on composting pig pens and chicken coops. These animals' living quarters are beautifully tied in with their food and their poo that conveniently become nutrients for the plants that shall feed them. Banana stalks which I never imagined to have any use other than holding up the bananas, are actually food too! Students chop them up into pieces to ferment them as pig feed, as well as further mincing them up as chicken feed. A feeding table was also provided on how much of each type of food to feed the animals - a real piece of gem for newbies at raising animals!
Coinciding with the lunar eclipse, lanterns were set off at night, courtesy of KLDF who brought the beautiful lanterns to Grace Garden. It was a party out here, with funny noises echoing off the mountain ranges as villagers carried out the traditional beliefs of using loud noises to scare away the eclipse.
Preparing the site for the composting pig pen.
Cutting up banana stalks. "I think I can use some of the things that I have learnt like composting pig pen and chicken coop and adobe. If I go back to my village, I will do it by myself."
Splitting bamboo under the shade of a car. To one student, the "highlight of the training was splitting bamboo with machetes and axes."
Day 4: Renewable energy day included solar power taught by Say Heh from SunSawang and wind power by Colin.
A competition was held for the fastest handmade vertical and horizontal turbines to work a stone to the finishing line. With the variety of designs for these turbines, it was like a fashion show!
Wind turbine competition.
The last day of class for this training camp concluded with a talent show. It was an evening of music, singing, laughter and hugs, as the entire crew of students and instructors participated in the myriad of performances.
Mass singing and dancing.
Day 5: A hike up the pagoda, which sits on the top of the mountains which has been a beautiful backdrop to Grace Garden.
We set off after breakfast, taking the route which we always see the villagers come by with their huge baskets. It was a tough hike up, and I was amazed I managed to make it, despite stopping so frequently while two angelic students waited with me. The view was stunning, and we could see Noh Bo and the Moei River that weaves by it. Coming back down to Grace Garden was much easier, as the route was less steep.
We then shared our last lunch together, and closed the training camp with the awarding of certificates to the students.